ASA 2009 Culture Show reviewed in The Bi-Co News Online

ASA Culture Show Review

By Julie O’Neil

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Section: Arts

This past weekend was the Asian Students Association’s annual culture show, and it was quite the night, filled with interesting acts and unique perspectives. The show, which dozens of Bryn Mawr students and community members attended, was titled “Asian America: Diversity United.” The performance was held, as usual, in Thomas Great Hall on Saturday night.

The show began with a PSA that encapsulated what the co-heads of the show, Christina Lee ‘12 and Amanda Loo ‘12, wanted to convey throughout the night. They wanted to prove first that all Asian-Americans are not the same. They have different life experiences, diverse backgrounds, and, yes, even distinct cultures within the Asian community. At the same time, the pair also wanted the show to highlight the obstacles that all Asian-Americans face.

To prove this fact, the show employed various mediums of expression and included students and performers from a wide range of Asian countries. For instance, the impressive Pan-Asian Dance Troupe from the University of Pennsylvania returned to the culture show and performed both a traditional Chinese fan dance and a traditional Japanese bon dance.

One of the acts that I particularly enjoyed was the opening act of the hula dancing performance. The performance featured a handful of Bryn Mawr students and showcased the beautiful and tranquil style of dancing. I think it’s great that this group exists on campus as it gives anyone, not just students of Asian-American identity, an opportunity to take part in something rich with tradition within the Asian culture.

The crowd-pleaser performances were definitely the karate demonstration, which showcased four different styles, all set to music and featuring a very adorable little boy fighting a grown man with what I believe was an actual spear of some kind and coming out the victor, and also the outspoken poetry of Yellow Rage. Vicky Chu ‘12 and Jessica Wong ‘12 performed the somewhat vulgar but ultimately amazingly feminist and strong-willed piece about what it’s like to battle adversity and sexism in a misogynistic world that left the audience cheering.

Also featured throughout the show were diary-style videos from members of the Bryn Mawr community—both students and also members of the Admissions staff. In the videos, subjects talked about their own experiences as Asian-Americans and what it was like to grow up in this melting pot of a country. I was particularly struck by Peaches Valdes’ commentary on how, in high school, she never saw herself as Philippina-American but, rather, simply Asian-American. Coming to Bryn Mawr as a student changed this view when she was able to meet women from numerous countries and was then able to connect with her own home country.

The few problems I had with the culture show were actually ones of practicality, rather than ones of substance. The show ran a very long time—about two and a half hours—and by the end, I was getting restless. Also, and to combat the length issue, I would have liked to have seen less of the outside performances and more of Bryn Mawr students performing. The karate performance and several of the dance performances were by groups outside of Bryn Mawr and I think that took away from the special nature of this showcasing of the Asian-American community here on campus.

Overall, the show was very enjoyable. I always like coming to the culture shows because of just that: the culture. I enjoy learning about a culture of which I am not a part and getting to see the art and creativity of that culture displayed by a talented group of Bryn Mawr’s own student body.

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